Chapter 9 Summary
A week after Passover, Mr. Lev calls from Vienna. He is vague in his revelations of what he has been doing, but he asks his wife to come to Vienna for the summer. Jacob Kahn flies to Europe to see an old artist friend of his. When he returns, Asher comes several times a week for lessons. Since Jacob often takes off his shirt when he carves, Asher begins to do the same. He is staying with his uncle, who tells him to get dressed when he catches him shirtless.
Asher paints one of the bullies at school. Jacob tells him not to be afraid to paint his hate. When Asher does, Jacob tells him that he hopes he is never hated by Asher Lev. Jacob announces that a girl is coming to the studio to model for Asher. He says that the Rebbe did not want Jacob to have Asher draw nudes, but he is going to do so anyway. Asher is increasingly nervous. He sweats all through the session, but he becomes more comfortable with it eventually. Mr. Lev comes home, visibly drained physically. He tells Asher that he is not reconciled to his son's studying with a nonreligious Jew, especially when he sees one of the nude drawings. Mrs. Lev tells Asher that she wants to go to Vienna with her husband and that Asher will live with his Uncle Yitzchok. Asher rebels against this, even though he had wanted to do this before. His mother accuses him of acting like a child and that other people have special needs, not just himself.
Asher continues to be bullied. He finds hateful poems on his desk, but he says nothing. Though he has been tormented like this for years, he has not become accustomed to it. He draws a vile picture of his antagonist and slips it into one of the bully’s books.
The Rebbe calls Asher into his office. He tells Asher that he has known him from a child and has been intimately involved in the affairs of the Lev family. He thinks of Asher as a son. He tells Asher that he wants Mrs. Lev to join her husband in Europe. Asher resigns himself to this in the face of the Rebbe’s power over all the Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn. Anna Schaeffer returns to America. She tells Asher that Jacob plans to have an exhibit of Asher’s work. When Jacob announces it, Asher is to act surprised. He does. Mrs. Lev finishes her doctorate and goes to Vienna. Asher moves in with his Uncle Yitzchok.